Saturday, September 4, 2010
Posted by Jonathan Martin
When he awoke to the smell of smoke, he forgot this fact, and thought that the fire in the fireplace had spilled out.
That is how the last chapter ended. This chapter contains an introduction of sorts as well as some action, and finally, a loss.
Peter woke up coughing, smoke was coming into the room through the crack he had left in the doorway to the room he had taken next to Zachariah’s. Jumping out of bed he started shouting “Fire.” He did not know where it was, but he wanted everyone out of the house.
Without thinking, he grabbed the handle of the door and pulled it open, but did not find it hot. Stepping out into the hallway, his vision was choked with smoke. He went into the bathroom that was across the hallway, its door standing open, and grabbed some towels, which he quickly soaked in water. Next, he tried the handle of Zach’s room, and finding it cool to the touch too, went inside.
Zach looked at him hazily, Peter could tell that he was not all there yet, but he did not have much of a choice.
“Come on man, we need you up, we need to get out of here.”
Trancelike, Zach sat up, and Peter handed him a towel. “Here, put this over your mouth. Zach began to cough and that was when the light came back on in his eyes. Holding the towel to his mouth, Zach tried to stand up, and the first time, unbalanced, fell back onto the bed. The second try got him up, and lurchingly, he made it through the door, and turned towards the stairs, almost bumping into Amy, who was coming out of the room she had chosen.
“Peter, what’s going on?” she asked.
Peter handed her a damp towel and said, “Don’t know, get him out, and if you can get your medical kit too, do it. I’m going after the rest, they should all be downstairs.”
Peter bounded down the stairs, taking them three at a time, a towel held to his mouth, removing it only to shout for the others.
“Chris, Sam, Brian, Sarah. Come on! Kyle, wake your mom up, Julie. Now.”
Sarah had been sleeping on the ugly green sofa and was wiping the sleep from her eyes as Peter came into the room shouting. “What’s going on?”
“The house is on fire, grab one of the wheelbarrows and get out. We'll meet across the street.” He said as he ran through to the back of the house. Julie and Kyle had taken the master bedroom, and there had been an office with enough floor space for Sam and Chris to sleep.
He pounded on the door as ran by the office, “Wake up and get out now.”
Luckily the door to the master bedroom was ajar, so when he ran into it, it opened under his weight. Kyle sat on the bed, “Hey Peter, why are you shouting?”
“The house is on fire, go out through the front door, if you see Rocky, see if he'll follow you, if he doesn’t, just go.”
Julie lay fast asleep on the bed, a pillow over her head, and when Peter shook her, she swatted him away. “Julie, wake up, the house is on fire.”
Maybe the word fire woke her up, or maybe it was the smell of smoke that was beginning to fill every room of the house. “Shit, KYLE! Peter, where’s Kyle?”
“I sent him out already, go on, if you see Rocky, grab him, otherwise he'll find his own way out. I got to check on Chris, Brian, and Sam, but I think everyone is safe.”
Julie turned and swiftly headed toward the bedroom door.
“Hey, if you see one of the carts of supplies, grab it if you can.” Peter called after her. He then followed her out the door and found the office door standing wide open, the room vacated. He sprinted out the front door, yet to see flames and ran across the street to where everyone was waiting.
Zach was lying down on the grass, Rocky licking his face. One of the wheelbarrows was on its side next to him, the other one parked nearby. Getting everyone out of the house had only taken a few minutes, but Peter found his heart racing. As he joined the group, he followed their gaze upwards back towards the house, to where the entire roof was engulfed in flames.
Peter took stock, counting heads, and that’s when he realized someone was missing.
“Where’s Sam? Chris, Brian, he was sleeping with you two, did he get out?”
“He was awake, I watched him leave the room, at least I think I did. Chris, he left with us didn’t he?”
“Yeah, I think so.”
“Wow!” Kyle exclaimed, the glow illuminating the amazement on his face. “Look!” He pointed.
They had all been so preoccupied with getting out of, and away from the house, that the figures standing on the lawn had failed to register. Now, the fire’s light was bathing a group of people, fanned out in a half circle, all facing the building they had just rushed out of, in the yard.
“Damn it! We don’t have time for them, we have to go find Sam.” Peter said, grabbing one of the towels, ready to run back into the house.
Julie grabbed him before he could run off. “Peter, it’s too dangerous, if he made it out, we'll find him. We need to deal with them right now, we have to pray that Sam’s alive.”
“Yeah, I know, but I can’t stand by here. Not after they burned down the house.”
“We don’t know that Peter, let’s ask them what happened. Hey!” Brian called out. This elicited no response. “Peter, Chris, come on.”
The three men walked up to where the people, a dozen in total, eleven men and one woman, were standing. As they approached the man closest to the street, they saw that, despite the heat the house was putting off, he was shaking.
“Hey!” Brian said again, one hand clutching his blanket, putting his other one on the man’s shoulder.
The man looked over at Brian, and then at Chris, before finally settling on Peter. He smiled, his eyes glowing in the firelight, and then turned back to watch the fire. It was then that Peter noticed two things. The guns in the dozen’s hands, and that the one they were standing next to was wearing his shirt.
“That’s my shirt bastard, give it back.”
“Peter,” Chris said, “Calm down, it can’t be your shirt,” he looked at the man, and the shirt he was wearing. It was a hockey jersey, it had the number 88 on the back, and above that, the word “GRAHAM” spelled out in block letters. Stepping around to the front, he was able to see the team’s logo, a polar bear with a hockey stick, before the man wearing the shirt side stepped him to better see the fire.
“I wear that shirt every Thursday when I play! Well, I wore that shirt, that’s my name! Give it back.” Peter made a move to grab the guy, but Brian stepped in front of him.
“Peter, this won’t end well, let it go.”
The man wearing the jersey looked over his shoulder directly at Peter. Later, Peter would swear that he saw the whole city burning in those eyes.
Labels: Hollow World